dogriver: (Default)
Monday night, Canada engages in a fedral election. As with most elections, the debate is heated, inflamatory, and strongly involves the blame game.

The primary union of federal civil servants is the Public Service alliance of Canada, or PSAC (pronounced "pee-sack". Recently, I have been hearing commercials on the radio put out by PSAC. While these commercials do not speak out in favor of a specific candidate, they do take very specific ain at the government of the day, led by prime minister Stephen Harper. It is not implied criticism, the prime minister is not hinted at, these are very specific references.

If I were a member of PSAC (and union membership in Canada is compulsery when there is a union available), I  would b upset by these ads, paid for by union dues. What if a union member is in favor of the government of the day? Is the union basically saying, "We're taking your money and spending it to deliver a message with which you disagree, and telling the world that you agree because we represent you"?

I work for a provincial governmental department. I have my opinions about the government of the day in Manitoba. The union of which I am required to be a member does not know what this opinion is, nor is it their business to know. If they put out a political message either in support or opposition of the government of the day, I would be angry, because they can't possibly claim to represent my political views, not being made aware of what those views are, and it is impossible that all those they claim to represent are unanimous in their political affiliations and opinions.

I am not a fan of unions. I accept that I am required to be a member, that's the law in my country, and I will obey it. But unions need to stay out of politics. What I choose to do with my money is my business; what the union leaders chooses to do with their personal money is their business. But what those leaders choose to do with <i>my</i> money is <i>my</i> business. I believe this to be true even if the union position meshes with my own, because it will not necessarily mesh with that of the next person. Just as CNIB claims to speak on my behalf but doesn't, so too, in the political sense, the unions seem to claim to speak on their members' behalf, but don't. I strongly believe this is wrong, it is abuse of the tremendous power that unions have over employers and employees alike, and it should not be allowed, in my personal opinion.
dogriver: (Default)
Over the past few months, there has been a fair bit of talk, some of it very bitter and inflamatory, about the use of exclusivity clauses by owners of Internet radio stations. I have been wanting to speak out about it for quite some time, but felt a need to better formulate an opinion before expressing it. This is my own, unsolicited article, and if I'm going to have an opinion, it's probably best that I make it well-grounded before doing so.

When the subject first came up in a sense relevant to me, I was undecided on the matter, I was on the fence. I saw the logic behind it, but I wasn't entirely sure I agreed with stringent implementation of such a claus. I have since made up my mind on the subject of exclusivity, and am now completely behind it.

First, what do I mean by an exclusivity claus? I'm refering to the owner of an Internet station proclaiming that, while a  broadcaster broadcasts on that station, they are not to (a) broadcast on any other station, or (b) advertise programming (via public mailing lists, social networking, etc.) from another station. It has nothing to do, as has been falsely suggested, with simply listening to programming from other stations.

Sounds harsh, doesn't it? "You're with my station, you'd better swear undivided loyalty to me." It may sound that way, but that's not what it's about at all.

Those of us who broadcast for an Internet station are part of a team. As one broadcaster of many on the station for which I work, my show is no less important than the next person's show, but neither is it more important. We're all equals, and we all deserve the respectful treatment of our teammates, as they deserve our respect.

So imagine for a minute that you and I are broadcasting together on a radio station. We'll call it Ketchup FreeFlow Radio. Now let's say I also have a show or two on MustardUpTheMusic Radio.

Now let's say that John Smith has a show on Mustard. I'm part of the Mustard team, so I advertise. "Everyone tune in to John's JamItInYourEar Jamboree", I tell them. But wait, your show on Ketchup airs at exactly the same time as John's. So what I am, in effect, saying, is this: I'm on two teams, but I want you to choose the Mustard team over the Ketchup team. I'm supporting John's show, but not yours. Now let's take it a step further. Let's say my show, or part of my show, happens to be on at the same time as your show. "Tune in to me, tune away from that other guy [you]," I'm saying. How is that going to make you feel? Are yu going to want to support me if I'm trying to take listeners away from you? ow can we be expected to work toeterin acrimony under  such circumstances?

And you can't expect to keep your integrity intact while making all kinds of exceptions. If team players are equals among equals, you have to say this is how it is, this is how it is for everyone, and that's it. That way, everyone who works at KetchupFreeFlow knows that they can support their fellow broadcasters, knowing that their fellow broadcasters will support them, or at the very least, that their fellow broadcasters aren't going to try to draw listeners away from them.

So that's why I fully and whole-heartedly support exclusivity clauses in Internet radio and why I oppose exceptions.
dogriver: (Default)
It was 1990, and I was about halfway through my summer job. For the
duration of the summer, I was staying with this family here in Winnipeg,
and I had arranged to get my own phone line while I was there, so I
could have some privacy with the phone, go online (remember when you
used an analog modem for that?) and so on. Due to unforeseen events, I
lost my phoneline halfway through the summer, and I was livid. My dad
picked me up one evening to go out and spend the weekend with my
parents, and I went on and on about how unfairly I had been treated, how
it had cost me money, and how I should get my money back. My dad tried
to tell me to just let it go. I didn't. Finally, in exasperation, Dad
said, "Okay, do you want me to just give you that money then?" Even
though I still missed the point my dad was trying to drive home (that
would take another fifteen years or so), that question at least shamed
me into shutting up and (at least outwardly) letting it go.

For whatever reason, this concept of choosing one's own battles has come
hard for me. When the Internet first became a part of my life and I
started joining mailing lists, I always found it necessary to defend
myself whenever falsely accused, or whenever I thought I was
right and everyone else needed to know that I was right.

I've seen a lot of other people doing the same thing. They see someone
disagreeing with them, or some crackpot making an outrageous statement,
or maybe just someone disagreeing with them about something they feel
strongly about, and to them it becomes a question of honor. I've been
there, I've done that. I probably still do from time to time. What
happens, or at least this is my experience, is that you become gripped
with an overwhelming need for validation. I believe this, that, or the
other thing, and it is therefore vital that others see it my way. Hey,
isn't there a Beatles song in there somewhere? The result would be that
I'd get into fights with other people on mailing lists, I'd annoy a lot
of people who had to slog through all the rubbish, I'd infuriate list
owners, I probably wouldn't convince anyone of my point, and people
would respect me less. Is "being right" worth it? You get an adrenaline
rush for about ten seconds. But I'd rather have people's respect than an
adrenaline rush.

What my dad was trying so hard to teach me all those years ago was that
there are battles worth fighting, and there are battles worth leaving
alone. When the abortion debate came up shortly afterwards, I wanted to
go all out, righting letters about a woman's right to choose versus a
child's right to live, I was ready to go on protest marches, the works.
But my dad cautioned me against it. "Don't you care?" I asked him? "Of
course I care," Dad replied sincerely, "but this is going to go through
regardless, you can't stop it, I can't stop it, so what's the point of
expending all sorts of energy trying? Save your energy for the fight you
can win."

This is the man who broke all the rules to make sure that I would be
allowed to be educated in the mainstream school system, so I could spend
my childhood living with my family. I'm not arguing here about the
merits of mainstreaming versus state-run schools, but rather my point is
that this was a battle that he not only believe in, but he believed he
could make a difference, so he was willing and able to expend his energy
on that, because he hadn't wasted it fighting for a phone line for a
month, our trying to lie in front of a bulldozer that refused to stop.

So what do I do? Or at least, what do I try to do? When I feel the need
to get up in arms about something, I try to first ask myself if it's
worth it. Am I fighting for something that really matters, or am I
merely wasting all sorts of energy trying to keep a private phone line
for a month? If it is worth it, then can I make a difference? If not, is
there anything to be gained at all by my efforts, or will I just look
silly letting that bulldozer run straight over me? ("Mr. Dent ... have
you the faintest idea how much damage that bulldozer would suffer if I
just let it run straight over you?" "How much?" "None at all.")

If we weed out the pointless battles and the battles in futility, we
will find ourselves with much more energy to the battles that do matter,
and where we can make a difference.

Martin Luther King, Jr., understood this. Though it cost him his life,
he knew that he could make a difference, and what a difference he made!
He knew which battles to fight and how to fight them. The women in
Canada who gave women the right to vote understood this, as have
countless men and women, past and present, for countless causes. The
people who choose their battles ultimately wind up being the most
effective at the battles they choose.
dogriver: (Default)
I didn't think turning forty would be any big deal. Certainly, turning
thirty-nine wasn't. I figured, forty's still young, right?

Maybe it is for everyone else, but why do I feel as though in one day
I've transitioned to geezerdom?

It's not helped by the fact that today is a rainy, damp, very windy, and
cold day outside. While waiting for another Handi-Transit passenger, the
driver left the door open. Cold rain blew in, and I wanted a blanket. I
felt as though I were aching from the cold. What's next, I wondered, am
I going to switch from being a primarily rock 'n' roll and comedy DJ to
elevator music and inspirational stories? Am I going to start eating
prunes and liking them? Will I start refering to young entrepreneurs as
know-it-all whipper-snappers or something equally geezer-like? Will I be
a crabby old man or a jovial old man? Why didn't forty seem-old at
thirty-nine, but now it seems ancient? For crying out loud, why
me!?!?!?!?!?!? I was in my early twenties only a little while ago, how
the crap did I come to be forty all of a sudden?

I find myself being ashamed of myself a lot more than I used to.
Granted, this is probably just me playing catchup from the days when I
didn't recognize when I was acting like an idiot.

I just read a psychology text that said the mid-life crisis in males is
a myth. Don't you believe it, don't~ It's real. I hate it, I don't know
what it means or what it accomplishes, but it's real. I want my twenties
back, especially if it's downhill from here. Yes I'm grumpy, darn it!
When I was your age, we respected grumpy people.
dogriver: (Default)
I'm not sure if I found it amusing, irritating, or both. It was at my
previous place of employment. I'd be standing between the two sets of
doors, waiting for my ride. There'd be a group of smokers standing just
outside the door. One of them would open the door, and say, "Why are you
standing in there? Come out here and enjoy the nice fresh air!" What's a
polite way of saying that any freshness in the air was defiled by the
burning leaves sticking out of her mouth?

I've had many and varied views on smoking in the course of my lifetime.
I used to come down on their side, feeling that they had the right to
injest cancerous agents if they so chose. But over time, my opinion
mellowed, then moved to the other side, and I'm now one of those
anti-freedom people who believe that smoking should be banned
everywhere.

The whole thing was driven home to me again this morning. I'd spent all
night inhaling paint fumes and enjoying the fun and games of the
headache that came with those. Stumbling downstairs to wait for my ride
(I spend a ridiculous amount of my life waiting for rides, don't you
think?), I sat down, only to have someone light up in front of me.

I'm not sure which I oppose more: alcohol or tobacco. I know that people
who maintain control over their drinking do no harm, but I also know
that huge amounts of harm are done by people who don't control their
drinking. I can think of no good whatsoever that comes from smoking.
Native North Americans who hold tobacco as sacred and smoke small
amounts of it ceremoneously may beg to differ on that one, but I am
aware or no health benefits to the smoker, a huge amount of discomfort
to the secondhand smoker, and rapidly-mounting evidence of major health
risks to those same secondhand smokers.

Am I trying to come across as a holier-than-thou Mr. Perfect person
here? No. Far from it. I'm no better than anyone else, though, like
most, I do try to improve myself because there's plenty of room for it.
These are just my thoughts on the habit. After a night of paint fumes
and a morning of tar, kerosene and other carcinagents, I had to write
something.

Oh, and one more thing, to all you non-smokers out there. If you have a
smoker friend who is trying to quit, it is your responsibility to be a
genuine encourager. Your friend is trying to better him- or herself and
is going through an escruciatingly hard time. Sarcasm ("here we go
again, let's see how many hours you last this time"), frustration ("are
you always going to be this grumpy?"), non-supportiveness ("Big deal, so
you're trying to quit"), etc., help no one. I've been guilty of the
sarcasm, at the very least, with my friends trying to quit. If any of
them are reading this, I apologize from the bottom of my heart.
dogriver: (Default)
I have been reading a lot of books recently, pretty much all I can find,
about the space program, particularly the 1960's. I've wanted to learn
everything I possibly could about this incredibly exciting, in my mind,
part of our history. The best book I've read so far, the author's name
of which escapes me, is A Man on the Moon. What a thrilling book
to read, the vivid detail. The feeling that I was there, on the space
craft, was inescapable.

So we've been to the moon. What's left to excite humanity now? We're not
going back, not any time soon, probably not in my lifetime at any rate.
This fact saddens me. Even the space shuttles are going to be out of
service by September. There are, from what I can tell, no plans to put
the Western world back into space any time soon, except as guests on
Soyuz craft.

So what's left? What can join humanity in its excitement? What will keep
us glued to our TV's? What will inspire rivetting books like A Man on
the Moon
? Has the spark of exploration, of discovery, been blown
out? Is humanity's future as boring as it's starting to look? I don't
know, I'm just throwing this out and seeing what happens. It's all kind
of depressing from where I sit.
dogriver: (Default)
It's called a carriage fee. Essentially, what it amounts to is that
local TV broadcasters in Canada want to charge cable/satellite
companies, and, by extension, consumers, to carry local TV stations. On
the surface, and at first glance, it sounds reasonable enough. You pay
for what you carry. But consider a few facts:

  • The CRTC currently requires that cable and satellite
    companies broadcast local channels. The broadcasters want this, it takes
    their signals where they might not otherwise go. What broadcasters want
    now is for these local channels to be forced on us, then to charge us
    for the privilege.
  • Local channels are to get top billin in terms of cable channel real
    estate. This means that local channels must be carried between channels
    2 and 13 by cable companies.
  • Simultaneous substitution regulations also stipulate that if an
    American channel airs the same show as a Canadian channel, the Canadian
    channel's signal is to be substituted for the American channel. This
    means that we might be tuned into ABC, but if CTV is airing the same
    show, we'll be watching CTV whether we want to or not.
  • Cable and satellite companies are already required to contribute to
    funds available to broadcasters to produce Canadian programming.


I'm not writing in defense of the cable and satellite companies here.
They want to grab our money just as much as the broadcasters do. But I
am speaking out against having channels forced on cable and satellite
subscribers with a plethora of protectionist measures thrown in and no
choice on the matter, and then to be expected to pay for that over which
we have no choice. The broadcasters say that consumers won't be paying
extra. Bullbleep. As the late great Paul Harvey was fond of saying,
businesses don't pay taxes, people do.

But the CRTC is getting good at this. They've already imposed a fee of
twenty cents per every single Cable/satellite subscriber, non-voluntary,
to finance The Accessible Channel, a channel set up to broadcast
fourth-rate programs in described video twenty-four hours a day. If you
go to their Website and look at their
excuse for a schedule, you'll see how the consumer is again being ripped
off by the regulator who seem to give NBRS, the organization behind The
Accessible Channel, anything and everything they ask for.

What the CRTC needs to start doing is realize that there are three
parties involved: there are the cable and satellite companies, the
broadcasters, and then this little group that seems to have been
forgotten called the consumer. The CRTC seems to think that we have
infinite funds available to fork out to whatever greedy organization or
association can't figure out how to fund itself. At some point, this is
all going to backfire, and Canadians will revolt and dump TV entirely. I
subscribe to TV at the moment through my phone company. But I am no
means a TV addict. IF new regulations to satisfy the greedy suck more
money out of my already meagre pockets, losing TV won't be a terrible
heartbreak to me. You have to prioritize. As far as I'm concerned,
Canadian broadcasters can go suck eggs if they think I'm going to start
funding them. Watching Degrassi, The Twelfth Generation and Karaoke
Canada (Canadian Idol) is not worth forking out my hard-earned dollars
for. If they want to start charging a carriage fee for local channels,
then give me the choice to opt out of the local channels if I so choose.
If they're going to start charging me, get rid of all the other
protectionist restrictions that benefit the broadcaster.

Obama

Mar. 30th, 2009 01:20 pm
dogriver: (Default)
I don't understand the international community's having gone gaga over US President Obama. The feeling of many people around the world is that Mr. Obama is going to create some kind of new openness and warm-and-fuzzy open-house policy for the United States that did not exist before.

Yet one of President Obama's first acts was to institute protectionist measures. Had it not been for Republican intervention, there would have been nothing in those measures to protect existing trade agreements with other countries. While I'm all for keeping jobs at home where feasible, as a citizen of the United States's largest trading partner, it seems to me that the risk of xenophobia is a real one, and anyone expecting a warm-and-fuzzy open door policy needs to wake up and smell the incense.

Mr. Obama is clearly a very intelligent, extremely articulate, charismatic, and no doubt a very nice man. But a lot of people are expecting a utopia under his presidency. I was no fan of Bush either, but I'm not naïve enough to expect what every indicator tells me not to expect.

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Bruce Toews

August 2017

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